Experience the Dandenongs

Mount Dandenong & Surrounds

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The Historical Gardens of the Dandenong Ranges

Dandenong Ranges are an idyllic weekend escape from Melbourne. Towering gum trees, fern gullies and photogenic trestle bridges create the ultimate leafy retreat.

National Rhododendron Gardens bloom with vibrant rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias during autumn and spring, while Yarra Ranges Council maintains numerous gardens that are open for public visits.

RJ Hamer Arboretum

RJ Hamer Arboretum, named for Prime Minister of Victoria from 1972 – 1981, is an absolute must for nature lovers. Spanning over 100 hectares, its forests comprised of diverse species create patches over hills rather than single tree plantings as is typical with arboretums. Large plantations featuring trees from Europe, America and Asia can be seen along walking tracks through this magnificent arboretum.

Garden delight is something to experience year round, but particularly so during spring. When blooms of rhododendrons, camellias, magnolias and azaleas erupt into bloom, as well as various flowering plants such as trees, shrubs and ferns flourishing on acidic soils of Dandenong Ranges’ cool temperate climates and acidic soils bursting forth their colourful selves!

As you wander the trails at RJ Hamer Arboretum, you will also come across an abundant diversity of native fauna and birdlife. With over 90 different bird species represented within its gardens – Rosellas are cheeky Rosellas while Lyrebirds are famed for their remarkable mimicry!

The Arboretum offers visitors a relaxing spot for walks, picnics and just relaxing under one of its many trees. Additionally, this space serves as a wildlife corridor; oftentimes koalas, possums and echidnas can be seen roaming freely through its grounds.

RJ Hamer Arboretum forms part of Wurundjeri Country and Parks Victoria recognises and values the strong connection Traditional Owners have to these lands. Near the Woolrich/Chalet Road carpark there are electric barbecues, picnic tables and toilet facilities – no cost is charged to visit however donations are appreciated!

George Tindale Garden

George Tindale Garden is an exquisite garden of flowering shrubs and trees nestled under the canopies of tall Mountain Ash trees, boasting cool climate, acidic soils, shaded conditions and spectacular magnificient magnolias, rhododendrons, camellias, azaleas and fuchsias to delight garden enthusiasts year-round.

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Ruth and George Tindale designed and constructed their garden shortly after purchasing it in the late 50s. As avid gardeners with an affinity for ornamental horticulture, their aim was to design something which offered something different each season; hence their gardens remain so captivating to visit today.

Take a leisurely stroll along the interconnecting paths and admire the natural beauty of Pirianda Gardens, from exotic tree plantings and delightful fern gullies to various sculptures and even the breathtaking waterfall at Pirianda – visitors won’t want to miss seeing what awaits them here!

The Gardens are open all year long. It is recommended to wear comfortable shoes and warm clothing; an entrance map is provided; picnic tables and toilets can also be found throughout.

The garden lies just an hour’s drive east of Melbourne in the foothills of the Yarra Valley and boasts an extensive collection of homegrown lavender products for visitors to enjoy. Also, come explore its fields, take in its views and stroll among all varieties of lavender displayed!

Pirianda Gardens

Pirianda boasts one of Victoria’s most picturesque gardens, situated atop its hilly terrain. Boasting an exquisite collection of botanically significant trees and shrubs, its famed autumn colors bring vibrant orange, red, yellow hues to the garden; not to mention an impressive assortment of exotic rhododendrons!

Pirianda Gardens are an essential visit for nature enthusiasts and flower admirers, particularly rhododendron enthusiasts and admirers. Thanks to deep volcanic loam soil, 1.25 metres of rainfall annually and minimal frost, Dandenong Ranges offer ideal conditions for plant growth – evident by the variety of rhododendron species like R. Elizabeth Hobbii with bright scarlet flowers as well as R. Forrestii Variant Repens with its ovate leaves that boast one to four bright crimson flowers!

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Springtime garden blooms with vibrant rhododendrons, azaleas and magnolias that add vibrant pops of color. Dogwoods and native plants like Stewartia and Franklinia flower throughout summer months; others stand out with leafless branches or unique features like Stewartia thornei.

Pirianda Gardens offer an idyllic place to visit all year, but particularly stunning autumn colors draw visitors. Renowned for their impressive tree collection – including 28 maple species and 13 birch varieties – the garden also makes a wonderful terraced woodland garden which attracts photographers and picnickers.

This park is open seven days a week from 10am to 5pm with free admission and on-site parking facilities. For more information, visit Parks Victoria’s website.

Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens

Sherbrooke in Dandenong Ranges National Park offers an ideal picnic ground for nature enthusiasts. Boasting stunning waterfalls and an assortment of native and exotic trees, this garden serves as a relaxing respite from Melbourne city life just over an hour away.

Burnham Beeches estate was constructed for Aspro sales magnate Alfred Nicholas and boasts extensive water features like its picturesque lake and charming boathouse, making this garden delightful year round. Wander through its many winding pathways underneath a canopy of Mountain Ash trees as you find your own adventure through this tranquil garden; enjoy picnicking by its peaceful waters near its charming boathouse; marvel at Mark Stoner’s mesmerizing sculpture or just marvel at its ever-evolving blooms and foliage!

Nicholas searched Victoria and overseas for established plants to populate his garden which features a lake, rock pools, and ornamental designs. To meet his desire for trees he used local species as well as imported ones – Japanese Maples, Himalayan Cypresses and Ginkgo Biloba being just some examples.

Spring and summer bring beautiful displays of blooms such as azaleas, wildflowers and cherry trees to this garden. Autumn offers even more scenic beauty – traditional Australian trees contrast perfectly against fiery red and orange non-native species that punctuate them perfectly!

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Mamma’s Special Mention: The Gardens are easy to explore with children, making for an excellent day trip! Explore at your own pace or let them loose to burn off some energy and explore all of the paths. Make sure to stop and admire the majestic tree in the middle – it makes an excellent spot for rest and playtime!

William Ricketts Sanctuary

Attracting visitors with its exquisite garden of eucalypts, roses, and hydrangeas, this cool climate botanic garden stands out with its magnificent flowerbeds. Their rich plantings come alive in autumn colors while summer blooms abound throughout.

Bill Ricketts created all 92 ceramic sculptures of Indigenous people found throughout Mount Dandenong Sanctuary that bear his likeness. Drawing inspiration from Central Australian Aborigine traditions, his aim was to evoke their spiritual and physical relationship with Mother Nature in his designs.

Ricketts was born in Richmond and settled at Mount Dandenong Sanctuary after spending much of his youth exploring nature, playing violin and honing his clay sculpture skills. His sculptures both celebrated and protested European colonization’s impact on Australia’s Indigenous cultures; acting like early forms of social media.

Situated in a picturesque gorge amidst mountains, these gardens are designed for strolling and quiet contemplation. Best visited during cooler months to witness blooming azaleas and chrysanthemums or to attend one of the Twilight Events hosted on property between December and March featuring operatic or string music performances.

Cloudehill also boasts beautiful gardens, as well as Seasons restaurant which specializes in seasonal produce from their kitchen garden and offers various twilight events such as Shakespeare performances and operatic concerts.

While visiting the gardens, make sure to see Ricketts’ original cabin, now transformed into a visitor centre. Brunch Cafe provides light meals, snacks and coffee; perfect for stopping in before or after exploring William Ricketts Sanctuary.